Wartime Women Rape: A Means of Moral Attack and Emasculation in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined

Elaff Ganim Salih, Hardev Kaur, Wan Roselezam Wan Yahya


Women rape at warfare was considered a consequence of war in the social, literary and political world for a long period of time. Some criminals of rape escaped justice and others were persecuted on the basis that they were involved in mass rape because it was a natural consequence of war. But, women are targeted with rape in time of war because they are the symbolic representation of a culture, ethnicity, and the unifying fabric of their people and nation. The objective of this paper is to show that war rape is not a result of war; instead it is a means of human destruction through moral attack and emasculation. It aims to show that women rape in warfare is neither a misogynist act nor a sexual violence but it is a pre-planned weapon used strategically and systematically to fulfill certain political and military agenda. The study focuses on the sexual abuse of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo in time of war in Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize play, Ruined (2007). The study applies Jonathan Gottschall’s Strategic Rape theory, which highlights war rape as a pre-planned military strategy. The enemy emasculates men and attacks them morally by raping their women. Consequently, men’s failure to protect their women causes them to give up resistance, leave their lands and families because of shame and humiliation. The study concludes that women rape in time of war is a tactic followed by conquerors intentionally to facilitate and guarantee the achievement of certain pre-planned goals as was the case of mass rape in the DRC.



Women rape, strategy, emasculation, moral attack, strategic rape theory

Full Text:



Abdullah, O. M., Yahya, W. R. W., Kaur, H., & Mani, M. (2015). Manifestations of Hysteria in Nawal El Saadawi's Woman at Point Zero. 3L: Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, 21(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.17576/3l

Belliveau, Jennifer. (2013). Prospectus Final Draft: Conflict Rape: An Ecofeminist Exegesis of the American Portrayal of Rape in African Conflict Regions. http://jenniferbelliveau.qwriting.qc.cuny.edu/2013/12/15. Retrieved in 23-10-2014

Cech, R. J. (2013). Advocacy Literature Sans Frontieres: African Warscapes, International Community, and Popular Narratives for Emerging Human Rights Norms (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh).

Devi, L. P. (2014). Treatment of Conflict and Discord in Husband-Wife Relationship in Shashi Despande’s The Dark Holds No Terrors. International Journal of English Language, Literature and Humanities. Volume ii, issue vi.

Enloe, C. (2000). Maneuvers: the International Politics of Militarizing Women’s Lives. Berkeley: University of California Press.

García, C. M. (2013). "This is my place, Mama Nadi’s": feminist Spaces and Identity in Lynn Nottage’s Ruined. Investigaciones Feministas, 3, 129-139. http://dx.doi.org/10.5209/rev_infe.2012.v3.41141

Gottschall, J. (2004). Explaining Wartime Rape. Journal of Sex Research, 41(2), 129-136. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080 /00224490409552221

Heaton, Laura. “U.N. Secretary-General Attends Prize-Winning play about Rape in Congo.” Enough Said. 30 June, 2009.

Nottage, L. (2009). Ruined. New York: Theatre Communications Group.

Palencia, C. S. & Eva Gil Cuder (2012). 'She'd make a splendid freak': female bodies on the American stage. Revista de Estudios Norteamericanos, 16, 141-156.

Skloot, R. (2010). Review Essay: Old Concerns and New Plays in the Theater of Genocide 1. Genocide Studies and Prevention, 5(1), 114-120. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/gsp.0.0041

Snyder, C. S., Gabbard, W. J., May, J. D., & Zulcic, N. (2006). On the Battleground of Women's Bodies Mass Rape in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Affilia, 21(2), 184-195. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886109905286017

Victoor, A. (2010). An Other Woman's Rape: Abjection and Objection in Representations of War Rape Victims in the DRC. Canada: Queen’s University Kingston.

Zabihzadeh, S., Hashim, R. S., Wei, C. C., & Clement, G. (2015). Domestic Violence against Women in Atiq Rahimi's The Patience Stone. GEMA Online Journal of Language Studies, 15(3).

Website References


Payne, C. (2010): Ruined. Almeida Projects Resource Pack. http://www.almeida.co.uk/downloads/Ruined Resource Pack.pdf

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.5n.3p.113


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2023 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.